We are inundated with opinions regarding foods that should be eaten for optimal heath: Coffee is good. Several cups a day might improve cognitive ability. Green tea is good. So is dark chocolate. Both foods are high in antioxidants.
Red wine is also good. Over the past few months I have read claims that red wine consumption helps combat obesity, inhibits the development of Type 2 diabetes, prevents premature aging, dementia, sunburn, certain cancers and bedbugs.
New research released from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that “bedbugs created fewer eggs when they consumed blood with 200-proof ethanol in it compared to their bug peers that feasted on alcohol-free blood.”
Gentle readers, may you avoid bedbug infestations. But if these dastardly insects are encountered, consume copious amounts of red wine. Even if the bed bugs bite, they will be less of a nuisance if you are anesthetized with red wine.
Interest in the health benefits of red wine came to the forefront in 1991 when “60 Minutes” aired a segment called “The French Paradox,” which explored why the French can consume large amounts of butter, cheese, whole milk, yogurt and meats high in fat, yet have lower rates of heart disease.
It was believed that daily consumption of red wine by the French might be the major factor. More specifically, scientists isolated a compound in red wine, resveratrol, which increased longevity and prevented cancer in mice.
Recent studies do not necessarily negate the importance of resveratrol in combating and preventing disease, but some studies indicate other components in red wine — polyphenols — are more significant in preventing disease.
The verdict is still out on the role red wine consumption plays, especially in Mediterranean areas known for the longevity of their citizenry. Such longevity may be less attributable to the consumption of red wine and more attributable to a lifestyle that involves the consumption of good fats from whole milk, cheese, yogurt and olive oil; frequent consumption of fish; portion control; a slower pace of dining over an extended period of time; less frequent snacking between meals; drinking plenty of water; less reliance on processed foods and more reliance on seasonal, locally produced foods.
Europeans also walk a lot. Walking to a nearby village is not a possibility for most Americans, but walking to the end of the street or getting on that dreaded treadmill is.
Add to this regimen a couple of 4-ounce pours of red wine as a reward. Forego the appetizers of nuts and cheese.
Consume your red wine reward with a slowly paced meal of fresh fruits, vegetables and moderate meat portions. Limit the intake of sweets.
And remember: Peach cobbler doesn’t count as a fruit, nor does Burger King’s new bacon sundae count as a small meat serving.
Email Pat Kettles at firstname.lastname@example.org